String Along Beans

Aldi has changed a lot over the years. DH and I started shopping there when Dale was just a baby. We bought two weeks worth of groceries for $75. I am not making that up. We drank reconstituted dry milk, and ate a lot of recipes calling for ground turkey and stewed tomatoes. The only kind of green beans they sold were the canned kind. Which are fine. I love green beans, period. But nowadays, Aldi has frozen fresh string beans, and I adore them. I like to steam them in my steamer, and then lightly salt and butter them. Yummy! They remind me of the string beans I get at King’s Buffet. King’s Buffet has a lot of seafood, but their green beans are the best. It could be that they are swimming in butter, but they happen to have been steamed to perfection. I grew up on the canned green bean, which is pretty much overcooked. The first time I tasted a crisp-tender string bean from King’s Buffet, I was hooked. Now I can have them anytime, thanks to Aldi’s expanding inventory. Go green!

Green Beans and Cornbread

When I was pregnant with child #2, Dale and I would eat cornbread and green beans for lunch. Sound boring?

The green beans were home canned…my MIL gave me the beans, and I canned them one hot steamy summer day. I loved the ritual of wiping the jar rims, sterilizing the lids, getting air bubbles out with a butter knife, and best of all…the smell of simmering green beans filling up the apartment. I bottled several batches, and that was what ‘Dale’ and I ate after we moved to our new hometown.

Still not convinced? The cost of the beans was negligible, since MIL gave me most of the materials. I think I bought jar lids. Jiffy makes a lovely little cornbread mix and sells it for 33 cents. So our meal was what, 20 cents a person? I love eating cheaply. And finally…

The piece de resistance? Real Butter. Not Imperial Spread or Blue Bonnet. No, real butter from real milk from cows. I would pull my little cake round out of the oven, barely wait for it to cool, and slather thick layers of butter on top. Then I would serve heaping piles of cooked green beans on each of our plates, and douse the hot beans with butter as well. A liberal dash of salt on the beans, and we would eat until bursting. I got a real kick out of my two year old boy enjoying green beans as much as I do. The best thing was we ate the same meal almost every day for a couple of weeks, and never got tired of it. It was inexpensive, arguably healthy, and a lovely little tradition that my first boy and I shared in our new apartment. I kind of felt like I had invented something, but then about a year ago, I was watching Bear in the Big Blue House with child number 4, and Bear announced that he was going to cook up a mess of buttered string beans…wow. It must have been my Southern roots shining through. We have beans in our garden right now, but not enough to warrant pressure canning them. I saw a roadside stand selling bags of green beans for a dollar. I couldnt’ decide if that was a good enough deal or not, so I drove on by. I’m probably not going to be able to find another 20 cent meal, huh.